By: Karen Yontz Center Staff
Healthy eating is a must for your heart. But did you know that many of the foods you eat to keep your heart healthy are also good for keeping you in a positive mood? Eating healthy, mood-boosting foods can deliver important brain nutrients while having a positive impact on your well-being too. So what are these wonder foods? They fall into 5 main categories.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: You have likely heard that omega-3 fatty acids may help lower blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels. But did you know that eating them at least twice a week make people less prone to hostility, aggressiveness, and depression? This happens because the omega-3s help form healthy membranes that raises serotonin--a key neurotransmitter influencing our mood—levels. You can find these omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish like salmon, herring, sardines, or mackerel.
- Probiotics: These live microbes are known to help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and blood pressure. However, they are also being shown to alleviate depressive symptoms in patients with depression. You can get probiotics by eating foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut.
- Folate: Folate is a vitamin that helps reduce a person’s risk of heart disease and stroke. It also is essential for helping the body produce serotonin. This vitamin can be found in many places such as vegetables like beans, peas, lentils, spinach, and broccoli as well as fruits like strawberries and avocado.
- Whole grains: These dynamos not only prevent your body from absorbing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, they may also lower triglycerides. They are also chock-full of B vitamins which are crucial for energy and optimal brain health. And the fiber they contain keeps blood sugar from spiking and crashing which means a lower chance of mood swings. Plus, the carbs in them boost levels of serotonin. Get your whole grains from foods like oats, brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat pasta and bread.
- BONUS!! If you add lean protein to your serving of whole grains, you trigger the release of norepinephrine, a brain chemical that provides energy and a lift in mood. Add some chicken to your whole-grain pasta, peanut butter to your whole-grain bagel or have a little low-fat cheese with some whole-grain crackers.
- Dark chocolate: The flavanols in dark chocolate has been shown to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. But you might not know that dark chocolate also contains caffeine and theobromine which may help boost mood. Just be sure to limit your daily intake to about 1 oz. (about 150 calories).
Right now is a great time to get yourself in a healthy-eating mode. Find great recipes here on the Karen Yontz Center website and on our Facebook and Pinterest pages.